Turning Away

I post this knowing that it’s incomplete, something I would never normally do. But I just feel like I have to get it out into the world, you know? So please forgive my typos and semi-complete thoughts. English majors should probably just stop reading here. – TORY

I’ve come to the conclusion that the greatest lie ever told by Christians is that “God loves you right where you are.” We see it time and time again, on website and marquees. We hear it constantly, on the radio and in the context of liturgical celebration. It is imprinted on our minds from infancy. And it is wrong.

God doesn’t love us as we are, rather he loves us in spite of it. Growing up, I confessed every Sunday that “I am by nature sinful and unclean”. If we really believe this to be true, then living as a Christian is to live a life of repentance – turning away from sin. God desperately desires us to change our lives, all the way around, even if it means abandoning our deepest feelings and happiest experiences. Thus the true meaning of self-denial: turning our back on everything we are outside of God’s truth.

For most Christians, this isn’t a novel concept, but it gets us into pretty big trouble when we talk about homosexuality. What most Christians don’t get is that the way of thinking for a gay person is totally turned on its head by this concept.

Homosexuality is a problem that we have to treat equally with other sins. As the alcoholic and the thief and the adulterer, we have an inherent problem. We have feelings, we have temptations, and we have failures. When people think of gays, they tend to focus on the physical nature, but a great deal of pain exists when confronting the emotional. When we feel love for another person, that feeling is totally legitimate – we love that person with the full force of our being, and would do anything to hold on to it. Is that feeling justified? In our hearts it is, just as it is between a heterosexual couple. Is is justified in God’s eyes? Of course not.

And that’s where things get difficult. For a gay person, self denial means shunning every deep feeling we have. It means rethinking every relationship, reworking every thought. It is painful, and neverending. Just as the drunk struggles to avoid the bottle and even feels tempted when he has been years removed from it, homosexuals are seldom released from their bonds. It is the struggle of a lifetime.

It has been over three years since I last touched another man, but it is a DAILY challenge to live in submission. Lately, I’ve had moments of spiritual and emotional weakness, and that struggle has intensified. But although I have been living in pain and heartache, I am called by Jesus to rise and walk. Although I am afraid, he bids me come. Although I sin, he forgives me and gives me hope.

By sharing my past over the course of the past 18 months, I have been contacted by many who fight the same demons. Be assured that although I write in first person, I speak for many.

So what can be done to fight this scourge of our fallen nature? It’s simple yet painful: total reliance on God’s love. It’s relying on his holy word to give encouragement, and relying on the Eucharist to give strength. It’s relying on the love of God through his saints in heaven and on earth to give intercession on our behalf, and to support us as learn to walk in freedom.

I have denied myself, but in doing so have been replaced – for as I decrease, HE increases within me.

May He make it ever so.

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